US News releases its first-ever ranking of online degree programs

January 10, 2012

Yesterday US News & World Report published its inaugural guide to online degree programs. Unlike its annual ranking of residential colleges, the magazine's new guide does not provide lists based on overall program quality, so no institution can boast that it hosts the top online bachelor's or online master's program. Instead, US News produced "honor rolls," spotlighting colleges that consistently performed well across the ranking criteria, which include student services, student engagement, faculty credentials, and admissions selectivity. To ensure the rankings were reliable, US News formulated its ranking methodology after the survey data was collected. Doing so allowed researchers to be fair to colleges that interpreted questions differently, says a data research analyst with the magazine. Some distance-learning experts criticize that technique, arguing that the methodology should have been developed before the surveys went out. The Chronicle of Higher Education (free access)